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OU Basketball: No. 9 Oklahoma Readying for First Road 'Battle' at TCU

The Sooners hit the road for the first time in conference play when they take on the TCU Horned Frogs on Wednesday night.

Oklahoma passed its first conference test, but there’s no rest in Big 12 play.

The Sooners entered the top 10, landing at No. 9 in the AP Poll, after outlasting Iowa State 71-63 at the Lloyd Noble Center on Saturday, but another physical test looms.

OU (13-1, 1-0 Big 12) travels to Fort Worth on Wednesday night to meet the TCU Horned Frogs (11-3, 0-1), who pushed No. 3 Kansas to the brink in Allen Fieldhouse last weekend.

It’ll mark Oklahoma’s first true road trip of the season, though the Sooners did take on North Carolina in Charlotte, and the contest will also serve as the true Big 12 baptism for a number of OU’s key pieces.

“It’s gonna be exciting,” forward Jalon Moore said on Tuesday, “just the environment and getting to play away. I’m ready for it.”

How to Watch No. 9 Oklahoma vs. TCU:

  • Wednesday, 8 p.m., ESPN2

Moore, along with Javian McCollum, Le’Tre Darthard, Rivaldo Soares and John Hugley IV, will be making his conference road debut inside Schollmaier Arena, but the Sooners can’t get distracted by the road crowd. If they do, TCU will run right by them, as Jamie Dixon’s Horned Frogs once again play at a breakneck pace.

“They’re just an old, physical team,” Moser said on Tuesday. “It’s very similar to Iowa State, you know? We got to take care of the ball, and we got to win the battle on the glass, and we also got to win the battle at the foul line.”

Oklahoma succeeded in taking care of the ball Saturday against the Cyclones. Iowa State only forced 11 turnovers — four of which came off bad screens — allowing OU to limit ISU’s ability to bank easy points in transition.

McCollum set the tone offensively on Saturday.

He picked apart Iowa State’s defense, dishing out five assists while only coughing the ball up once.

If he can continue to limit the mistakes, the Sooners generally make opponents pay. Oklahoma shoots 49.9 percent from the floor, which ranks 16th in the country.

“Our guys are smart… They’re about winning,” Moser said. “… You talk about offensive efficiency and points per possession. You have more turnovers, it’s less possessions. It’s simple math. Our guys knew they had to take care of the ball. They did, have to do it again.”

OU will also need to keep the Horned Frogs off the board to prevent second chance points, which is easier said than done.

Led by Emanuel Miller and Ernest Udeh Jr., TCU averages 12.4 offensive boards per game.

Sam Godwin and Hugley held up for the most part against Iowa State, and like the rest of the team, showed plenty of fight to help push OU across the finish line in the Big 12 opener.

Moser is looking for more tough minutes across the board in Fort Worth, as that’s what it takes night-in and night-out to succeed in conference play.

“Our guys, they’ve got some resolve,” Moser said. “And when you win with those kind of situations it only does build confidence. But our guys are confident.

“And the thing that I liked is at the 36 minute mark into the (Iowa State) game they were defending really hard. And we had some guys, we really executed in the last four minutes… I mean it was an absolute physical, physical battle. And you expect nothing less heading into TCU.”

OU hopes to move to 2-0 in league play on Wednesday at 8 p.m., with a trip to Kansas looming on Saturday, a stretch the Sooners are looking forward to.

“I don’t think I’ve played in any road environments like the Big 12,” McCollum said. “I don’t think anything’s gonna come close, so I can’t wait to see what it’s like.”